Russell Carhouse

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Russell Carhouse
TTC Russell Car House October 2012.jpg
Location1433 Queen Street East
Toronto, Ontario
Coordinates43°39′51″N 79°19′22″W / 43.66417°N 79.32278°W / 43.66417; -79.32278Coordinates: 43°39′51″N 79°19′22″W / 43.66417°N 79.32278°W / 43.66417; -79.32278
Operated byToronto Transit Commission
Structure typeMaintenance and storage facility

The Russell Carhouse, located at Queen Street East and Connaught Avenue just east of Greenwood Avenue in Toronto, is the Toronto Transit Commission's second oldest carhouse.[1][2][3]

Russell Carhouse used to store and maintain high-floor streetcars which have all been retired from service. It is currently used to store and dispatch a small number of low-floor streetcars. The carhouse has not yet been adapted to maintain low-floor streetcars, but the TTC plans to renovate the carhouse to do so.[4][5]

External image
image icon Russell Division track plan (1995)


An article in a 1978 issue of the TTC's internal magazine, The Coupler, asserts that the carhouse is named for T.A. (Tommy Alexander) Russell (founder of Russell Motor Car Company) and friend of Robert John Fleming a former Mayor of Toronto and general manager of the Toronto Railway Company. However, a member of Ontario's Provincial Parliament, Joseph Russell, was also a friend to Fleming, and his brick manufacturing yard was near the carhouse, and supplied brick for the carhouse. Transit historian Ray Corley asserts the yard was more likely named after Joseph Russell, due to the proximity of his yard, and due to playing a role in the facility's construction.[6]


Russell Carhouse was built in 1913 by the Toronto Railway Company as a paint shop. When the TRC's King Carhouse burnt down in 1916, Russell was rapidly turned into a carhouse.[7]:123 In 1921, the TTC took over and amalgamated all the existing streetcar systems within the city limits.[8] By 1922, it had acquired land on the west side of the carhouse building to build a 15-track storage yard.[2]:131 The TTC found that the carhouse foundations were faulty and the facility was sinking. They called for tenders for its demolition and the construction of a new carhouse which opened on December 13, 1924.[9] A separate traffic office building was constructed at the corner of Queen Street and Connaught Avenue. The only surviving part of the 1913 carhouse is a wing on its east side facing Connaught Avenue; it contained offices, a store room and a boiler room.[7]:123

In 1922 the TTC added fire equipment to its St. Clair Carhouse, Danforth Carhouse, Russell Carhouse and Lansdowne Carhouse.[10][11]

In August 1928, the ladder tracks at the south end of the Russell yard were moved 15 feet (4.6 m) to the north in order to widen Eastern Avenue to 4 lanes.[12]:27

Between 1927 and 1936, radial cars for the Scarboro radial line were stored at Russell Carhouse. The TTC took over Scarboro radial operation in 1927 and connected the radial line to Bingham Loop for carhouse movements.[12]:10–12

By 2011, when the TTC contracted with Bombardier Transportation to replace its fleet of streetcars with modern, low-floor streetcars, some consideration was given to refurbishing the maintenance facilities at the Russell facility to accommodate the vehicles, rather than build a new half billion dollar facility.[13][14] The site chosen for the Leslie Barns carhouse was only a few hundred yards away from the Russell facility. Local city councilor Mary-Margaret McMahon argued for improving the Russell facility in 2011. In the end the new Leslie carhouse was built. But the Russell facility was to remain open to store new vehicles not requiring maintenance work.[15]

In 2012, the crossover (with tracks effectively forming a reversing wye) on Connaught Avenue near Queen Street was eliminated when the tracks there were replaced. The wye allowed single-ended streetcars to turned to face the wrong way within the yard. This allowed the front wheels of a streetcar to be positioned on a wheel truing machine in the carhouse, a practice that became obsolete with the introduction of the CLRV. This was the last remaining on-street crossover on the system.[16][17]

In 2015, the ladder tracks at the south end of the Russell yard were replaced. Eastern Avenue at that location was narrowed to build a fence to keep road and pedestrian traffic off the ladder switches. A pedestrian sidewalk was built along the south side of the fence. The ladder area at the south end of the carhouse building was regraded to reduce the effect of sharp curves on a grade.[18]

In September 2015, Russell Carhouse serviced about half of the system's CLRV and ALRV streetcar fleet. At that time, the facility served the 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road routes exclusively, and along with Roncesvalles Carhouse, served the 501 Queen, 504 King, 505 Dundas, 506 Carlton, 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina routes.[19]

In January 2020, after retirement of the CLRV and ALRV fleet, the Russell Carhouse served only 501 Queen using Flexity Outlook streetcars.[20]

Doors Open 2014[edit]

During the 2014 Doors Open Toronto event the TTC provided its legacy vehicles for the public to explore at the Russell Carhouse.
During the 2014 Doors Open Toronto event the TTC provided a prototype of its soon to be introduced Flexity low floor streetcars at the Russsell Carhouse.

The Carhouse is normally closed to the public.[1] But, in 2014, the TTC added the facility to Doors Open Toronto's list of buildings normally closed to the public which are opened to public tours for one weekend per year.[9][21][22] For its public debut the TTC made available its small fleet of legacy heritage streetcars, and provided a prototype of its Flexity low floor streetcars, which were introduced to revenue service four months later.[23]

In a review of the effectiveness of Doors Open as an educational tool, Allana Mayer, of the association of Art Libraries of North America, listed the Russell Carhouse as one of four "crowd favourites".[24]


  1. ^ a b Chris Bateman (May 20, 2014). "Six buildings worth seeing at Doors Open Toronto 2014". Toronto Life. Retrieved July 24, 2016. The TTC is offering a peek inside its Russell carhouse, a Queen Street East facility that serves as one of three streetcar storage-and-maintenance areas.
  2. ^ a b Louis H. Pursley (1961). The Toronto Trolley Car Story, 1921-1961. I.L. Swett. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  3. ^ Daniel Sellers (March 5, 2015). "Maintaining the Streetcar Fleet in Winter Months". Torontoist. Archived from the original on August 13, 2015. Retrieved July 25, 2016. There is another fundamental difference from the legacy cars, too: the low-floor is able to live up to its name only by stashing much of its propulsion equipment underneath its roof. Renovations at both Roncesvalles and Russell over the next several years will enable mechanics to work on the cars from above rather than below.
  4. ^ Munro, Steve (March 22, 2019). "TTC 2019 Fleet and Capacity Plans Part II: Streetcars and Buses". Steve Munro. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  5. ^ Munro, Steve (April 18, 2019). "TTC 2019 Fleet and Capacity Plans Part III: The TTC Responds". Steve Munro. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  6. ^ James Bow, Hugh McAuley (June 25, 2015). "Russell (Connaught) Carhouse". Transit Toronto. Archived from the original on July 6, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2015. Ray Corley's research disputes this, however, noting that R.J. Fleming was also friends with a Joseph Russell. Joseph was a brick manufacturer at 1308 Queen Street East at Alton Avenue (northeast corner) and he provided much of the supplies used in the original construction of the TRC's paint shop in 1913, a more direct and obvious connection between the person and the naming of the site.
  7. ^ a b Pursley, Louis H. (1958). Street Railways of Toronto: 1861–1921. Los Angeles: Interurbans Press.
  8. ^ "Looking Back". Toronto Transit Commission. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved July 25, 2016. In 1920, a Provincial Act created the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) and, in 1921, the Commission took over and amalgamated nine existing fare systems within the city limits.
  9. ^ a b "TTC - Russell Carhouse". Doors Open Toronto. City of Toronto. 2014. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2015. While taking over the building, the TTC found that the foundations were faulty and the facility was sinking into the Ashbridge's Bay "fill". In 1923 they called for tenders for its demolition and construction of a new carhouse on the site.
  10. ^ "Lansdowne Carhouse". Canadian Engineer. 1922. p. 318. Yonge Street, for the installation of a fire protection system and car washing service for the yards of St. Clair Car House, Danforth Car House, Russell Car House and Lansdowne Car House, including water lines, nozzles, hydrants, standpipes...
  11. ^ Toronto Transportation Commission (1953). Wheels of Progress: A Story of the Development of Toronto and Its Public Transportation Services. Retrieved July 25, 2016. With the exception of the new Russell carhouse, this portion of the Commission's rehabilitation programme was entirely completed by the Fall of 1923.
  12. ^ a b John F. Bromley (1979). TTC '28; the electric railway services of the Toronto Transportation Commission in 1928. Upper Canada Railway Society. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  13. ^ Peter Kuitenbrouwer (January 31, 2011). "Leslie streetcar yard 'utter boondoggle,' says Mary-Margaret McMahon". National Post. At present, half of the TTC fleet of 248 streetcars spend their down time at the Russell Carhouse, on Queen Street near Greenwood Avenue, and the other half rest at the Roncesvalles Carhouse, at Queen and Roncesvalles Avenue. Those yards are too small for the new mega-streetcars, the TTC says.
  14. ^ Nataliee Alcoba (February 2, 2011). "TTC moving ahead with new facility in Leslieville". National Post. Retrieved July 25, 2016. The 204 vehicles will replace the city's iconic streetcars. The plan is to house 50 of them at the west-end Roncesvalles Carhouse, 50 of them at the east-end Russell Carhouse, and the remaining 104 at Ashbridges Bay.
  15. ^ Natalie Alcoba (March 25, 2013). "TTC to spend $700M upgrading infrastructure for new streetcars". National Post. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2015. $75-million will go to modify the Roncesvalles and Russell carhouses and the Harvey repair shop
  16. ^ Munro, Steve (June 12, 2010). "Wrong Way at Russell". Steve Munro. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  17. ^ Munro, Steve (September 21, 2012). "Queen East Construction News". Steve Munro. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  18. ^ Munro, Steve (November 20, 2015). "Russell Carhouse: Eastern Avenue Reconstruction". Steve Munro. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  19. ^ "Service Summary - September 6, 2015 to October 10, 2015" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2015.
  20. ^ "Service Summary - January 5, 2020 to February 15, 2020" (PDF). Toronto Transit Commission.
  21. ^ "Public invited to board TTC's new streetcar at Doors Open Toronto". Toronto Transit Commission. May 21, 2014. Archived from the original on August 10, 2014. Retrieved July 24, 2016. The Toronto Transit Commission will open its doors this Saturday, May 24, as part of Doors Open Toronto. The public is invited to join Councillors Paula Fletcher and Mary-Margaret McMahon and the Leslieville BIA at the TTC's historic Russell Carhouse from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  22. ^ Peter Kim (May 23, 2014). "Toronto's Doors Open event adds more than 40 new locations". Global News. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  23. ^ Mike Filey (April 26, 2014). "Gardiner Expwy. repairs comes 60 years after constructions began". Toronto Sun. Retrieved July 25, 2016. Prior to their collective appearance in last week's extremely popular Beaches Lions Easter Parade four generations of TTC streetcars posed at Russell carhouse on Queen St. E.
  24. ^ Allana Mayer (August 25, 2014). "Doors Open: Toronto and Beyond". Art Libraries of North America. Retrieved July 24, 2016. Of the former in recent years, crowd favourites have been tours of the Historic Don Jail (before its renovation into the Bridgepoint Hospital), the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, the Russell Carhouse (for maintaining Toronto's iconic red streetcars), and the long-abandoned Crystal Ballroom at the King Edward Hotel.

External links[edit]

Media related to Russell Carhouse at Wikimedia Commons